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Manor officials consider raising rental fee for community room

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Manor Council might vote as soon as next week to increase the fees for renting the Manor Community Room for the first time in seven years to help pay for improvements to the space.

Depending on what council members decide, the new fees also might be applied to some nonprofit groups that generally have enjoyed free rentals.

During the discussion at their Nov. 6 meeting, council members reached a consensus that they would raise the rental rates for a four-hour block to $175 for 85 or fewer attendees or $200 for 86 or more people up to the room capacity of 196. Both rates would be a $25 increase. Each hour after the initial four-hour rental would cost $50.

The proposed policy would continue to allow borough officials to pay a flat $50 fee per event to rent the room.

Council members are justifying the proposed increase because they would like to add to the estimated $12,000 available in the budget to spend on room maintenance. Rental raises haven't been increased since 2006.

Over the past two years, council has bought new doors, collapsible tables and lighting for the room. One of the new priorities, they said, will be upgrading the bathrooms, which will need new tiling and other improvements.

“The bathrooms are pretty disgusting, in my opinion,” Councilwoman Christine Marchand said.

Of the 60 events that were scheduled this year, 40 percent won't generate any revenue because various community organizations or nonprofit groups usually get the room for free.

Council members said they would continue to exempt borough-based organizations such as the Manor Public Library and Manor Volunteer Fire Department, as well as the Penn-Trafford Area Recreation Commission, which may use the room for free because of an intermunicipal agreement.

However, they were undecided about continuing what typically has been a system of granting free rentals for some other nonprofit groups, such as the Manor Lions Club, Valley Run Lioness Club and Harrison City Area Woman's Club.

Under the borough's existing policy, council votes on those organizations' requests for a fee waiver during public meetings.

Council members say they want the new policy to state that council may “waive or reduce” the rental fees.

“They're getting a great deal if there are no fees figured in,” Council President Dawn Lynn said.

Besides the cost for having a custodian clean the room, officials said, the borough is responsible for utility expenses if they're not collecting any money for a rental.

“If I come in here and rent the room, I have to pay $50,” Councilman Bruce Hartman said of the fee charged to borough officials who rent the room. “The Manor Lions can do the same.”

Some clubs choose to give a small donation after holding free fundraisers there, officials said.

“I'm not worried about people not coming for a free rental,” Councilman Steve Ira said.

Elma McKee, a member of the Valley Run Lioness Club, said she wasn't sure how the club's officers might react if the club were required to pay a rental fee.

The club has held biannual fundraisers at the community room over the last couple of years, including one this past Monday.

“I love it,” McKee said of the room. “(There's) a lot of room, and the parking is excellent. It's really nice.”

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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